Tag Archives: Jeff Carter Chico Area Recreation District

Chico Area Recreation District lawyer tells the board what $taff wants them to hear – don’t buy it

24 Jul

I don’t know how many of you read the Chico Enterprise Record, but I only recently  found out – in a town of over 85,000 the ER has a circulation of less than 10,000.  Wow, that was a shock – especially since that would include readers all over Butte, Glenn, and other nearby counties. I grew up reading the ER out in Glenn County, most people had a subscription to both the Sacramento Bee and the ER.  As Chico’s population has almost tripled since my childhood, you’d think the ER would have at least 50,000 subscribers. 

10,000? And that includes people who only subscribe to the Sunday paper.  But, it’s the local daily, so I continue to read it, and send letters to the editor.  It’s better than nothing, and I mean that quite literally.

So yes, I saw the article ER shill Laura Urseny wrote about  a letter I had written to the CARD board. I told them I believe they are spending taxpayer money illegally to promote a tax measure.   District General Manager Ann Willmann had put my letter on the July 18 agenda for discussion, and also asked the district lawyer, Jeff Carter, for his opinion. That’s all a lawyer can give you, his opinion. 

Urseny reported, as I would expect, “Thursday night, CARD attorney Jeff Carter said outside the board meeting that CARD has not violated rules in dealing with EMC because it was a survey of the community and nothing more. The survey did question whether citizens would support any kind of revenue measure.”

Of course Carter says they haven’t done anything illegal – for one thing, they haven’t, yet. That’s correct – after I wrote the letter I finally received a response from Howard Jarvis Association counsel Tim Bittle, who said, “Unfortunately, it is not illegal.  Government Code section 54964 provides, ‘An officer, employee, or consultant of a local agency may not expend or authorize the expenditure of any of the funds of the local agency to support or oppose the approval or rejection of a ballot measure.’ “

He explained, ” Notice two things about that statute. First, it contemplates that the local agency may lawfully hire a ‘consultant.’ Second, the statute cannot be violated before the existence of ‘a ballot measure.’”

Apparently, they can’t violate the law until they have actually written and handed the measure over to the county clerk. But, as soon as that measure is given approval and a ballot title, the district is not allowed to spend any more money on it.

Well, what’s “legal” isn’t always “right”, and I still think this is an important detail when considering passage of a revenue measure. The district couldn’t get support from the citizens, who would have had to put it on the ballot by way of petition, which would have meant there was some support in the community. But that’s not what happened. So CARD has spent over a hundred thousand in taxpayer money putting this measure on the ballot themselves, that is a fact.

They’ve hired consultant after consultant – EMC has been hired twice. The district originally tried to get Aqua Jets swim team to front this measure – for a new “aquatic center.” Then they got a group called Every Body Healthy Body to propose a “megacility” sports center south of town. But a recent survey done by EMC blew up in their faces. It seems the 400 respondents were more concerned about transients camping on their kids’ soccer fields and stealing their wallets, laptops and cell phones from the dugout at ball games. 

According to a report from Ch 7 news,

https://www.actionnewsnow.com/content/news/CARD-survey-shows-park-safety-a-top-concern–510232051.html

Rather than new facilities, the majority of people said they just want to feel safe.”

Here’s an interesting quote from that story, because this is what I have seen for over two years now –  “CARD is working on what to put into a possible tax measure.”  They are ready to promise us anything to get us to raise our own taxes.

This is exactly what EMC has been hired to do by  both CARD and the city of Chico – figure out what to tell people to get them to increase their own taxes. EMC blatantly claims to “offer a full suite of political research and predictive analytics to help your candidates, organizations and ballot measures succeed.” 

Their questions lead the respondents to think the sky is the limit if they pass a tax on themselves.  Tom Lando’s 2012 survey offered a sports stadium, CARD has offered various sports facilities – what they don’t tell us publicly is they are getting deeper into pension deficit because employees aren’t paying nearly enough to support their own demands for these unsustainable pensions. 

You have to read the budgets to see that CARD employees are paying less than 10% for pensions of 70% of their highest year’s salary. General Manager Ann Willman makes roughly $110,000 a year, paying less than $10,000 to  receive a $70,000/year pension for the rest of her life. That is unsustainable unless you get a gullible, lazy and poorly educated public to agree to pay for it. 

In my letter below I said Willmann pays less than $2,000, because that’s what she’s been paying, as a “classic member” of CalPERS. Reading her latest budget message, I see she’s been asked to pay 6% by next year, eventually 7%. Let me be  the first to say, “Big Fucking Whoopee Mrs. Potato Head.” 

These people are like chiggers – they attach themselves to taxpayers, and then they suck you dry, providing you no benefit whatsoever.  

I am not going to let them lie their way to the bank this time, so I wrote the following letter and sent it to the ER yesterday. Let them know how you feel about this grab – maybe you can convince  them to stop spending money on this endeavor, and start using those funds for proper upkeep of facilities we’ve entrusted to them. 

I beg to differ with Chico Area Recreation District attorney Jeff Carter. CARD’s consultant is up to more than a simple survey.  Read EMC’s claims at their website – “Great campaigns don’t just happen. That’s why we offer a full suite of political research and predictive analytics to help your candidates, organizations and ballot measures succeed.”

CARD has spent over $100,000 on consultants to help them push a tax measure, money that would have been better spent maintaining now closed Shapiro Pool.

In 2017, a survey concluded there was not enough support for the proposed aquatic center to go forward with a tax measure. The most recent survey showed the majority of the 400 respondents are more concerned with safety and lack of maintenance at the facilities CARD already operates.

In 2015 a consultant hired by CARD told them they could bring long-neglected Shapiro Pool back up to code with about $500,000 in repairs. For instance, the filter pump had not been working for years, and the diving board had  been torn out, leaving obvious trip hazards. Instead of doing the necessary repairs to keep the popular facility open, CARD made a $400,000 “side fund” payment toward their pension deficit.

CARD gets over $3,000,000 in property and vehicle taxes, another $2,000,000 in RDA funding. They spend $5,700,000 on salaries, benefits and pensions. Management pays less than 10% toward their own pensions, the manager paying less than $2,000 a year toward 70% of her $100,000+ salary in retirement.

 Join Chico Taxpayers in saying NO to self-service, greed and mismanagement.